Hearing and Vision Screenings

Hearing

Every now and then, your doctor may ask you to get a hearing test. Don’t assume that something is wrong. Hearing tests are how doctors use to make sure that your ears work well.

With age, hearing loss becomes more likely. About 14% of people ages 45 to 64 have some degree of hearing loss, but that rises to more than 30% among people who are 65 or older. This is why your doctor will want to test your hearing every few years, rather than just once as an adult.

Experts recommend that adults get their hearing tested every 10 years until age 50, and then every 3 years after that.

Why Would I Need a Hearing Test?

Some people may suspect that they have hearing loss. They have trouble hearing people talk to them when they’re in a crowded room, or they’ve been told they raise the volume on the TV way too high.

But not all people know that they have a problem. You may not realize that you have hearing loss, because it’s often a gradual process. That’s why it’s important to have your ears checked when your doctor says you should, even if you think you’re fine.

There are many causes of hearing loss in adults:

 

  • Being around loud noises often at work

  • Mowing the lawn or using power tools

  • Shooting guns or other weapons

  • Loud music, both live and recorded

  • Too much ear wax

  • Getting hit on the head

  • Having an infection

  • Taking certain drugs

  • Problems with hearing that run in the family

Older adults who don’t do anything to address their hearing loss are more likely to feel left out of social events that they’d normally enjoy, because they can’t hear what’s happening. They might even stop seeing their friends or family as often because they’re embarrassed that they can’t hear well. Isolation makes people more likely to become depressed, unless they get help for their hearing loss.

What to Expect During the Test

The whole process should take about 30 minutes, and it’s painless.

How Do I Prepare My Child?

If the child is old enough to understand what’s going on, sit down with her and explain what will happen during your doctor visit. Make sure she knows the doctor will ask her to look at and identify objects. These could be pictures, letters, or shapes of light on the wall. Explain that the doctor may put drops in her eyes, but it won’t hurt. They might sting, but only for a few seconds. Be honest with your child and work with your doctor to reassure her.

What Tests Will the Doctor Do?

1 year and younger: The doctor will check:.

  • For nearsightedness: You might hear it called myopia. It means your child can see OK up close but objects far away are blurry.

  • For farsightedness: It’s also called hyperopia. It means she can see OK far away, but things up close are blurry.

  • For astigmatism: That's when her eye isn’t shaped the way it should be, so everything looks blurry to some degree.

  • For amblyopia: One eye is weaker than the other because the brain area for one eye didn’t fully develop.

  • How the eyes move

  • To make sure the eyes are lined up right

  • How the eyes react to changes in light and darkness

If your pediatrician or family doctor suspects an eye problem, you'll be referred to a pediatric eye doctor. Early diagnosis of childhood eye disease is crucial to effective treatment.

Ages 3-5: The eye doctor will do a physical exam of your child's eyes and also do vision screenings using eye chart tests, pictures, letters, or the "tumbling E game." This game measures how well your child sees the form and detail of objects. (Your doctor will call this visual acuity.)

The game, also called the Random E's Visual Acuity Test, is a good option for kids who can’t read yet. The child is asked to identify the direction that the letter "E" opens to by holding out three or four fingers to mimic the letter "E." You can practice this test at home before your appointment.

If your child is a bit older, she may be asked to identify pictures such as a plane, a house, a duck, or a hand. Correcting poor visual acuity is very important in a child's sight development.

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is the loss of one eye's ability to see details. Amblyopia is reversible when detected early. Treatment involves patching the better-seeing eye or blurring its vision using atropine drops. Amblyopia is the most common cause of vision problems in children.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on December 13, 2018

Sources © 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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